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Zscaler CEO warns of AI’s cyber risks

Zscaler CEO warns of AI’s cyber risks

AI Cyber Risks

Jay Chaudhry, CEO and founder of Zscaler, has issued a stark warning about the dangers of artificial intelligence (AI) when wielded by cybercriminals. Speaking at Zscaler’s customer event in The Hague, Netherlands, Chaudhry highlighted how AI facilitates more accessible and more precise cyberattacks. “AI is wonderful.”

We all read about AI’s benefits, such as providing information at your fingertips and automation that helps you get work done faster, better, and more accurately. But AI can also be dangerous,” Chaudhry cautioned. He explained that identifying vulnerabilities, which used to be a time-consuming process, can now be accomplished within seconds with AI.

“Today, you can simply ask, ‘Show me all the vulnerabilities of a target’s VPN systems,’ and the list shows up in under 30 seconds,” he noted, emphasizing the speed and precision AI offers to cybercriminals. Similarly, Chaudhry pointed out that AI makes phishing attacks more sophisticated and targeted, resulting in highly-convincing emails that can deceive even vigilant recipients.

Cyber risks heightened by AI

Chaudhry elaborated on how hackers deploy AI to define attack surfaces, such as firewalls, VPNs, or applications, and then execute lateral movements within networks to discover high-value targets, ultimately aiming to steal data and disrupt operations. “Our focus is to make sure we can stop these bad guys at each of these four steps,” Chaudhry said. Zscaler aims to achieve this by “fighting AI with AI” and implementing a zero-trust architecture to fend off malicious actors.

Chaudhry argued that traditional firewall-centric architectures are no longer effective against cyber threats. Instead, Zscaler’s Zero Trust Exchange platform, which operates on the premise that no user, workload, or device is inherently trustworthy, is designed to combat these threats. The platform verifies identity, determines destination, assesses risk through AI, and enforces policies before brokering a secure connection between a user, workload, or device and an application.

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Zero trust is a fairly simple and straightforward policy engine with a bunch of attributes that keep you safe. We can help you in all four areas using this kind of architecture,” Chaudhry asserted. Looking ahead, he teased several upcoming additions to the platform in 2024, including an AI-powered honeypot to catch hackers.

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